Gary Player might be the fittest 74-year-old in the world. Well, maybe that’s a bit of a reach, but probably not by much. He definitely is the most robust golfer over the age of 50 and I wouldn’t be surprised if he beat many of the 20-somethings in a push-up or sit-up contest. Recently, the controversial, outspoken, self-promoting, nine-time major champion plugged his book in a Q&A with Golf.com’s Jeff Ritter.
Player also sounded off on his distaste for lazy people and reiterated the whole unnamed-players-have-told-me-they’ve-taken-PEDs spiel. But, of course, Player gave some entertaining answers (I’d love to interview him someday).
Here are my favorite portions of the program.
Are young players today softer than they were in your era?
Young people today are coming along at a different time. [Many are] obese — 26 percent of the youth, 55 percent of the grownups … how do you go into life and excel? You cannot obtain success unless you’re in good condition mentally, physically and have a positive attitude.
I look at the Tour now, and there are all these international players coming in and taking over. What is the reason? You know what is? I think, we live in this great country of milk and honey. You think there’s a sense of entitlement. We’ve got to get people to get back to the grindstone.
How concerned are you about performance-enhancing drugs in golf?
Let’s talk about sports in general. It’s getting worse. Way worse. And the problem is much bigger than professional sports. Look at the boys of 16 years of age in America who are taking human growth hormone or steroids. Look at South Africa, or any place in the world today. They’re doing it because the rewards are so great. They say to themselves, “If I don’t take it, I cannot be a champion.” And that’s the most serious thing facing sports today. It’s very, very sad.
I’ve had golfers come to me and tell me they’re taking it, but to not repeat it, and I never have. We’re dreaming if we think they’re not doing it. I think golf is by far one of the best in terms of performance-enhancing drugs, but we’re dreaming if we think players haven’t done it.
So golfers are beating the sport’s new testing program?
When I was having dinner with Jack and some of the other Olympic members in Geneva, what they were saying happens today is, as they find a device to test people, so are the scientists finding a way to mask it. Look at what they found at the last Olympics. The Chinese, the Bulgarian weightlifters. You just recently read about something with Lance Armstrong and [Floyd] Landis. Would Landis say something like that if it wasn’t true? It makes you wonder. Could a man really say that about another man, that he took drugs if he really didn’t? It’s a strange world we live in.
In a recent SI survey, 24 percent of PGA pros said they believe Tiger Woods used PEDs. How concerned are you about Tiger’s potential link to steroids?
You know, I don’t really want to get into a specific individual like Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods has been a great champion, he has a great work ethic, and he’s had his problems, which I feel very sorry for. I must say I’ve found it very interesting that he’s apologized and I hope that his problems are solved as soon as can be.
I was actually going to ask how many push-ups you’ve done so far today.
I do a fair amount of push-ups, but not too many because I don’t want to develop the front part of my body. Sometimes I’ll put a 100-pound weight on my chest and do sit-ups with that on. I think there are probably very few young people who could beat me in a fitness contest.
For more Gary Player-isms, go here. There’s also a fun video, where Player embarrasses Jeff in a push-up contest. Ouchie.